First off, let me say that there is no way, no matter how charismatic, how dynamic a politician is, that he is not going to get a hearty, healthy heaping of What The Heck?! from this website. I don’t care if they’re Republican or Democrat, or any of the other minor food groups.
When is the public going to learn that all politicians are corrupt simply because the system itself is inherently corrupt? (Most systems of government are.) By its very nature a political system that provides too much monetary incentive exerts excessive temptation to wield power for personal gain.
And though many of you are shrieking, “Anarchist!” right about now, let me say for the record I am not an anarchist. I believe our basic system of government, as defined by the founding fathers, is the best around. It is the most stable, has the most checks and balances (at least in theory), and it provides a common “law of the land” for all people, transcending all other alliances, therefore uniting us under a system of values rather than of ethnicity, race, or religion. In fact, our values are our culture.
But, there are definite ways of making it better.
Sure, some politicians are corrupt to greater or lesser degrees. But if they all weren’t sullied by the greasy waters of the political pool (think of the slimy pond in front of the gates of Moria in LOTR), they would voluntarily do the following:
- Accept a salary that was less than the median income is in their state, or ideally no salary at all
- Reign in their expense account, or give it up in favor of provided services
- Limit terms so that the natural flow of ideas is not stagnated.
- Limit campaign contributions to $10 per person and none from businesses or better yet stop taking private money entirely
Is this really too much to ask?
Politicians should remember that being a representative is not a job—it’s public service. This is not a new idea, it goes straight back to the early days of our nation. Representatives only have to show up to vote, at least in the state of Pennsylvania. This is not and should not be considered a “career”.
If politicians make a median salary or better yet none at all, then there is no personal incentive other than the will to do good (we’d hope) for the people. A politician would then become someone with a vocation to make the world a better place, not some selfless creature, but one who knows that he will benefit personally from the overall betterment of the circumstances of each individual in society.
And don’t give me that “Socialist!” crap. I am all for individual rights, but a group of individuals constitutes a society, a group, no matter how you want to do the math.
Additionally, if politicians were unable to become entrenched career politicians, they would be more concerned with the business at hand and less concerned with figuring out how to get re-elected.
The costs associated with meals, transportation, and housing for politicians who must travel from their home bases are real, however why not put a cap on the amount they can spend per meal. Some ideas are:
- Allow the public to vote on how much their average meal at a middle class restaurant should cost
- Compensate the politician for travel time the same way most people are compensated: by making them submit mileage. They could also be granted some small amount for wear and tear on a vehicle. OR
- We can provide them with a middle class company vehicle like a low end Honda or Toyota, or if we have to stay domestic, a Ford Focus. They can drive themselves, just like anyone else would have to do. Better yet, let them take public transportation once in a while. I know there are several trains that go from Philly to Harrisburg regularly.
- For housing, we can take a look at universities for our cue, and I don’t mean the Ivy League ones. Let them live in dormitories, the standard being that of the best state schools. Surely this standard of lodging should be amenable to the average politician, given the luxurious allowance of a private bath for each room and maybe t.v. Of course, we would give them an internet connection for their laptops (laptops being their own purchase).
- Finally, the only way to remove special interests once and for all from politics is by limiting their ability to put politicians in their pockets. Why not have a basic campaign allowance, to be voted on by citizens, allotted for each politician. With those limitations, the challenge would be to come up with the most creative ways to get their message out there, without one having a greater advantage. They would have to start on equal footing. They also could not contribute their own finances to the campaign. This would allow access to the political arena for everyone, not just the rich and privileged.